Michelle Lordi graces the Philadelphia area with her singing, and her album releases and club dates in New York and elsewhere are gaining her wider recognition as she continues her regular local gigs. She sings clearly, straight ahead, and with panache. In this album, she brings together a septet of outstanding instrumentalists for a nostalgic set of standards from the American Songbook with "small big band" arrangements by saxophonist Larry McKenna reminiscent of those which Bill Holman did during his West Coast years in the 1950s. McKenna and guitarist Sonny Troy, long time cohorts, provide post-swing improvising interludes that are as good as one could ask for.
This album takes the listener back to the time of the big band "girl singers" like Helen O'Connell and Peggy King, who sang what was on the sheet music. Lordi is more assertive than they are in her delivery, and she swings more lithely and with stronger emotion. But given the tendency of many vocalists to own the tune and add a lot to it, Lordi's renditions are more transparent and definitely evocative of the Swing Era. She sings "They Say It's Wonderful" with just the right feeling, and perfectly brings out the romantic nuances of "The Lamp is Low." That Irving Berlin, Frank Loesser, Richard Rogers, Lorenz Hart, and Johnny Mercer are among the composers represented tells you what she is aiming for.
McKenna's arrangements provide a perfect setting for Lordi. (McKenna has been writing big band arrangements privately for decades, and recently has made some of them available for performance.) The backup musicians, Jay Webb on trumpet, John Swana on valve trombone, Mike Frank on piano, Matthew Parrish on bass, and Bill Avayou on drums ably capture the classy "small big band" sounds that punctuate and embellish the vocals without intruding on them.
Thanks to the consummate skill of Lordi and the band, this album will provide the listener with a trip down memory lane which has just enough modern flare that it doesn't sound outdated.
Dream a Little Dream; They Say Its Wonderful; No Moon at All; The Lamp Is
Low; I Hear Music; Thou Swell; This Time the Dreams on Me.
Michelle Lordi: vocals; Bill Avayou: drums; Mike Frank: piano; Larry
McKenna: tenor saxophone; Matthew Parrish: bass; John Swana: trombone
(tracks 2, 3, 5. 6. 7); Sonny Troy: guitar; Jay Webb: trumpet.